“We’re not using a portal,” were the first words out of Abby’s mouth as she came back with Angel.
“We’re not?” Xander asked, confused. He’d have thought that maybe they couldn’t get the spell ingredients except Abby was looking far too bouncy for that.
“Portkey,” Abby squealed at him happily.
“A what key?” Gibbs asked.
Xander started laughing. “Oh god, Abs,” he gasped out amidst the giggles that were shaking him and making his cheeks and chest hurt. “We’re not in Harry Potter,” he broke the news as gently as he could.
Abby rolled her eyes. “I know that,” she smiled indulgently at him, “but we were talking about it and Angel thinks it’ll be safer and more accurate to spell an object that will transport us all back here. So, technically it’s a portkey.”
Tony laughed when he realised just what she was talking about. “Priceless.”
“Oh, and we didn’t go with amulets, they were far too obvious and gaudy. We went for something a little more subtle,” she told them as she sat down by Xander.
Angel was already going to work, while Spike heated them both some blood, and Gibbs took himself off to the kitchen to cook dinner for the four humans.
It was late by the time Angel had finished creating the ‘portkey’, as Abby would insist on calling it, and Xander was falling asleep where he sat. He started in surprise when Angel scooped him up and carried him into the bedroom that Gibbs and Tony had used the night before. Looking at him in surprise and confusion the younger man tilted his head as he was set down on the mattress.
“That was unexpected,” Xander told him.
Angel smirked. “This whole situation is. I’m glad you called though, I’m sorry we weren’t there to help sooner.”
“Some things are meant to be, you know that better than anyone,” Xan replied with a half-shrug.
“I suppose I do,” his lips twisted in a wry smirk. “They’re good men and I’m glad you have them. Spike…he thought he was doing the right thing and now things are…”
“It’s fine, I know how it can be,” Xander reassured him. “He said you were badly hurt in LA.”
“Took nearly a year to heal, he had to feed me. I’m not entirely sure why he decided I deserved it after the way I’d treated him when the roles were reversed.”
“Don’t start brooding now; you were doing so well, I heard you laugh four times this afternoon,” Xander teased.
Angel dutifully chuckled in response.
“You must be going for a record,” Xander told him smugly. Then it fell away before he spoke again. “I’m still hurt,” he declared, “by Spike…it took me so long to get over losing him… to then find out he was back so long.” He shook his head sadly and looked down at his hands. “But, as crazy as it sounds, I’m happy now and despite everything that’s going on I wouldn’t trade Tony and Jethro for anything. Besides, in a weird way, I think the two of you are meant to be, you just missed it for like… a century.”
The vampire gave a smirk. “We’ve been pretty oblivious that’s for sure. It was all Darla’s fault really. She’d told him I left him, and all those years he blamed me for leaving him to deal with her viciousness alone. Oh sure, I was brutal before the soul, but never to him. And then when I lost my soul, well… that was a whole other level of insanity. He hated me already by then and Angelus had kind of lost it with being trapped with a soul all those years.”
“I’ll happily blame Darla,” Xander said with a dark smile. “She really was quite the bitch. I know she was your sire, but…”
“It’s fine, I agree with you. Funny though, she was a pale imitation when she was doing the Master’s bidding in Sunnydale. I can’t fault her for her final sacrifice though,” Angel sighed.
Xander frowned. “You’ve lost me.”
“You never heard? Wolfram and Heart brought her back as part of a ploy to get her to bring me over to the dark side. Only, they didn’t realise she would come back human and with that she would still be suffering from the disease that was going to kill her. Think I was supposed to turn her; she certainly tried hard enough to get me to. I’d finally convinced her that dying as a human she would be absolved of the sins of the demon and be able to rest in death. W&H had other ideas though and brought Dru in. Of course, she had no qualms about turning her.”
“I’m following so far, I think. Still lost on the sacrifice bit.”
“The powers that be had plans, and when Darla had one last shot at making me lose my soul, she…well, I can’t really say she seduced me,” Angel smirked, “Because I was more than willing in the proceedings. I threw her out after, she had a monumental tantrum because my soul was still firmly in place. When she showed up seven months later she was heavily pregnant.”
Xander blinked. “S’cuse me? I’m fairly sure you just said that Darla…the vampire, who at that point was both your sire and your grandchilde, was pregnant?”
Angel couldn’t help but smile at the undeniably confused look on the human’s face. “She was. And weirdly, she actually grew to love it in the last couple of months. She went into labour but it was all going wrong. She realised the only way he would be born was if she was dust.”
“She staked herself,” Xander said with realisation.
The vampire nodded. “Of course, it all went to hell from there on, but that’s another bedtime story. I’ll show you a picture of my son, Connor, tomorrow.”
Xan was just a little worried by the calculating smirk that was on the normally broody man’s face. “Ok,” he said slightly warily.
“Night,” Angel said softly and left the room.
It was twenty minutes later that Gibbs and Tony came into the bedroom. Xander had managed to get out of his clothes and wriggle his way into bed. It had been long enough to give him plenty of chance to fret about spending the night in bed with the two men. He was nervous, it wasn’t really surprising, but he wanted this. Their relationship had been progressing at a painfully slow rate, partly in deference to his injuries and partly to his damaged heart. Now, though, he knew that Spike was well, if not exactly alive still; not that that
was anything new. He could handle the idea of stepping up the pace with the other two, he was in no hurry to find out that he couldn’t perform sexually, but he knew he would still enjoy the intimacy of cuddling and smoochies.
“Abby has the second bedroom and the other two are sharing the fold out bed,” Gibbs told him, as he pulled his shirt off over his head.
Xander couldn’t work out where to look and his eyes flitted nervously back and forth between the two men’s faces and the way they were stripping down to shorts and t-shirt.
“You ok?” Tony asked as he sat on the edge of the bed. “If you’d rather…”
“No, I’m fine, this is fine. I’m just…it snuck up on me,” Xander told him quickly, smiling shyly at them.
“Well, didn’t expect Abby to be staying the night, we’re short on space. If you’re sure?” Gibbs’ ice blue eyes studied him for long moments as if measuring the sincerity of his declaration.
“I am. It’s not like we’re gonna do anything, not with the supersenses out in the living room,” he flushed a spectacular shade of pinky-red. “I mean…I’m not ready for that yet anyway.”
Tony smiled warmly at him as he slid in beside him and pulled him into his arms. “Middle or outside edge?”
Xander looked at Jethro, who was smiling affectionately at the two of them.
“Gibbs will be on the side nearest the door, he likes to be able to protect,” Tony told him quietly. “It’s up to you, I’m a cuddler and Gibbs has been known to a bit too.”
“Used to be,” Xan told him, “don’t have the movement now, so feel free to cuddle up to me.”
“Middle it is then,” Tony told him and kissed him fleetingly on the lips and cuddling in even more.
Gibbs chuckled and slid into bed on the opposite side to Tony. He leaned over Xander and kissed his boy on the lips. Just when the youngest of the three was starting to feel a little forgotten, Jethro broke the kiss and then carefully placed a tender kiss on his mouth.
Xan’s lips tingled at the softness of the touch and he gave a soft sigh as the kiss broke. His cheeks were hot, but he didn’t care; it had felt good. He gave them both a smile and wiggled his upperbody as if settling himself more comfortably.
“I could get used to this,” Xander declared as the light was turned out.
Monday morning was slightly hectic as they all ate and prepared for the day ahead; all except Spike, who had grumbled about being woken so early before he disappeared into the bed that Abby had just vacated.
Angel checked over his spellwork one last time and deemed it good to go. Then the four humans were off to put the plan into action.
It was Abby that had received the location of the house they were to take Xander too and they went there first. It was left to Gibbs to make sure that they had got him settled in his chair ready and with something to occupy his mind with for the next couple of hours. Xander had the ‘portkey’ too and had memorised the activation word. He was full of fear and anxiety as he watched Abby, Tony and Jethro drive away in her borrowed car. He knew that when they came back it would be in Gibbs’ own vehicle. He just hoped that the people looking for him wouldn’t have a way of finding him before they came back to put the plan in action. That and he some how had to get his mind off the staged remains that were sitting in the kitchen.
Xander needn’t have worried: everything had gone according to plan so far, it would seem. He watched from behind the blind at the living room window as Jethro’s car pulled up and the three people climbed out. He’d already been watching the fake mailman delivering post around the street for the last ten minutes. His eyes flickered across the street and saw a suspicious black car pull up to the curb a good distance back from the others. He suppressed a shiver and reminded himself it was what they needed to happen.
The doorbell rang and he made his way to answer it. Following his instructions, he made sure he pulled the door open wide enough to make himself visible to anyone looking from that car. The mailman had done his bit and handed Gibbs the padded envelope; who in turn did his bit and handed it over to him. Xander smiled as they made small talk like they would if they hadn’t just seen each other a couple of hours ago and waved them all inside.
Opening the envelope and pressing the timer switch button, they continued to make small talk before Xander turned on the tape recording they’d made; just in case they had high-tech listening devices. Tony took the envelope, their ID wallets and the three NCIS employee’s cell phones into the kitchen and placed them on the table before returning to join the other three just as they were all taking hold of the backpack that was their ‘portkey’.
Everyone had a hand on it and Xander clearly stated the word, “Bathroom.”
A flash of bright light, a sickening lurch and they landed in a heap on the floor of the cabin they’d left earlier that morning. There was a moment of silence as they all looked at each other wide-eyed and then Xander pouted.
“What?” Tony asked, full of concern, wondering if the enormity of what had just happened was finally catching up with him or if the trip had hurt him.
“I didn’t get to see it go boom,” Xander explained.
That seemed to break the tension and they all started laughing, including Xander, which was followed by the explanation of blowing up his high school.
Fifteen minutes later and they were all sat around drinking coffee while feeling a distinct amount of anti-climax. They had no way of knowing if it had actually happened, if the bomb had gone off, or if it had been seen by the people that were after him. It was all a bit surreal, like it hadn’t actually happened at all. It was important, of course, that they remain out of communication. Not even Ducky was allowed to call and let them know the outcome and they had no TV to see what was going on.
Their wills had all been written up the night before and they’d been witnessed by those not named as beneficiaries; they had decided that it would be considered odd if they didn’t name the others. Abby had presented them to McGee that morning when they’d arrived at work. The man had looked at her confused but she’d simply given him a kiss on the cheek and a bone-crushing hug.
They’d been clever, they were fairly certain of that: Gibbs had left everything to Ducky, Tony had left everything to Gibbs while Abby had left some to each of the three men and some personal effects to her parents. The theory was, that since all three had been killed together, the wording would mean that everything would go to Ducky. Xander had been the only one to change that pattern, he’d left everything to Willow, Buffy and Dawn; not that there was much because most of his money was in the staged accounts that only he knew about.
“Still don’t know how they realised I wasn’t dead,” Xander mused as he sipped his coffee.
“Scoobie-net,” Spike suggested.
He was met by several confused frowns.
“Think about it, you die and the entire slayer network will know about it. Hell, there’ll be many in the demon world interested in finding that out,” the bleached-blond elaborated.
“So when news of my death wasn’t all over the place, they realised that I wasn’t dead?” Xander asked, then shook his head. “Christ their logic was flawed. I mean, if I’d died, NCIS would never have known who I was. My prints aren’t on file anywhere and the Scoobies probably wouldn’t even miss me until they didn’t hear from me at Christmas; I would’ve been cremated as John Doe. And that’s a depressing thought,” he concluded. “At least this way they can mourn me. You’ll have to make sure they know.”
Angel nodded his agreement, not needing to say anything; it wasn’t something he would look forward to doing, but he’d find a way because Xander deserved it.
“So,” Spike said with fake cheer, “Any idea where you’ll all go, what you’ll do now?”
“Oh,” Abby suddenly bounced up and across to her purse. “I almost forgot. I have our new IDs,” she said waving the four pieces of plastic triumphantly in the air.
“Please god, I hope you’ve given me a good name,” Tony murmured.
Gibbs smirked slightly, unconcerned, “Can’t get much worse than Leroy Jethro…gotta go a long way to beat that.”
“Man’s got a point,” Xander grinned at him. “C’mon, Abs, put us out of our misery.”
“Ok. Tony…” she held his card out to him along with an envelope. “I included a resume,” she explained, when he looked at her enquiringly.
“She’s nothing if not thorough,” he grinned as he took them. Looking at the card his eyebrow rose. “Dante Giovanni?”
She shrugged, “I know you’re used to undercover, but Xander and I aren’t, so I thought it best to keep initials that sounded alike for us, but was able to be a little more creative with yours,” she grinned, unrepentantly.
He opened the envelope and then looked at her. “You made me a Phys Ed teacher?”
She gave a little shrug and a ghost of a smile. “You’re good at sport and I know you enjoyed working at the Y. Most of all, it’s believable.”
“Bossman,” she said and handed over Gibbs envelope and ID.
“Guy Jeffries,” he raised an eyebrow at her but didn’t add anything further. There was a momentary pause while he opened the envelope.
“I couldn’t get away from you having a military background, sorry,” her smile suggested she wasn’t that sorry at all.
“So you made me a cop?” he asked in surprise.
“Well, it’s not that big a leap, right? I made you SWAT, it seemed to fit,” she grinned. “Decorated,” she chuckled.
“You retired me?” He almost sounded sulky at the thought as he read his retirement date.
“Couldn’t see you looking for a position in that line, too much of a come down after what you’re used to. Besides, you’ll get a pension like you deserve,” she stated.
“Something tells me that your tinkering goes further than a fake resume and new identity,” Xander acknowledged.
Abby adopted a look of innocence; they all knew it was a fraud.
“Ok…Xander,” she gave him his envelope.
“Zane Peters. How is Peters close to Harris?” he asked in confusion.
Abby grinned. “None of the ‘H’ surnames sounded right.”
He shook his head and opened his envelope. Xander stared at the piece of paper for a long time before he started laughing. “You made me a marine?” he laughed loudly.
Spike snickered and even Angel’s lips twitched as they remembered ‘army guy’ from that Halloween so many years ago. Abby obviously found it hilarious too; a moment later and Tony had caught the joke and started laughing along with them.
“Disabled out in a top secret black ops mission, hmm,” it made sense to have the cover and for it to be something that he couldn’t talk about.
“Figure you’ve fought on the frontline long enough to earn the pension that’ll go with it,” she told him with a glimpse of seriousness.
He gave her a grateful smile. “Thanks.”
“So, what about you, Abs?” Tony asked.
“Andie Sherraton at your service,” she declared as she flashed them an impish smile. “I couldn’t give up science,” she said and ducked her head. “So, I’ve left my options open with it a bit.”
“Any clue where we’re gonna go?” Gibbs asked as he put his feet up on the coffee table.
“How about Miami?” Xander asked. “Nice and sunny.” He glanced at the other three.
“Miami’s good for me,” Tony agreed with a brilliant smile.
“Close to water, suits me,” Gibbs nodded.
Abby shrugged, “I can handle the heat, be good to be back down South again.”
Xander grinned. “Miami it is then.”~Fin~